The other night, I stole a chip from my owner’s dinner plate. It wasn’t the first time that I’ve done this, and I knew he wouldn’t be very pleased. What made it worse was that I had a preconceived plan. I waited until his attention was drawn to something on the television, and then I went in for a quick ‘smash and grab' before flying up onto a tall bookcase with my ill-gotten gain, where I knew he couldn’t reach me.
There’s an old parrot saying that ‘a clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.’ Unfortunately, my memory is very good, so I don’t always like myself. And I’ve come to realise that my conscience is the inner voice that God has given me which either accuses or excuses the things that I do. He’s instilled a moral compass in each of us to help us determine what’s right and wrong. And why? Well, He doesn’t want us to do ourselves (or others) unnecessary harm. The theft of a chip might not seem very much, but if my inner conscience hadn’t kicked in, I could have found myself on the slippery slope of sin.
Many years ago, my owner worked for a big national charity. One day, a colleague reported the theft of their lunchtime sandwich from a refrigerator used by the staff. At the time, it caused some amusement. What nobody knew was that the perpetrator then progressed to something far more serious. They worked in the Accounts Department and successfully forged the signature of the charity’s Director General, making out cheques to themselves for over £30,000. This individual hadn’t listened to their inner voices; their sins grew progressively worse and they were ultimately caught and given a long prison sentence.
So I believe that our inner conscience is a very good thing. If we feel guilty about something we have done, then the voice of God is actively speaking to us, not because he wants to condemn us, but because He loves us and wants us to tread the best course through life. God’s guilt brings enough regret to change us, unlike Satan’s guilt which can crush us and enslave us.
Honesty and integrity are what we should always strive for if we are to get the maximum enjoyment out of our time here on Earth. Because you can’t enjoy tomorrow if you haven’t washed away the guilt of today. And that’s what a great many humans discover for themselves…...
“Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving.”
(Erma Bombeck: [1927-1996]: American humourist and newspaper columnist)
“Guilt is the thief of life.”
(Sir Anthony Hopkins: [1937 – Present]: Welsh actor, director and producer)
It’s when we lose our inner sense of conscience that things can get completely out of hand. The worst crimes and atrocities in the history of humanity, have always been committed by individuals that have buried their inner conscience and lost all sense of remorse. Without either, there is no way back from the abyss.
Of course, I’ll probably sin again tomorrow and feel bad about it. (What my owner doesn’t know is that there are the remnants of a great many chips lurking out of sight on top of the bookcase). Every time I see them, I feel a prick of conscience. But actually, that’s probably a very good thing! Because while I feel that way, I’ll never stray too far away from God.
“An uneasy conscience is a hair in the mouth.”
(Mark Twain: [1835-1910]: American writer)
“The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
(1 Timothy 1:5)
(Jesus) said to them:
“If anyone is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time…...until only Jesus left…..” (John 8: 7b & 9).